Would it be optimistic to say we're heading out of the recession that has buried the U.S. employment outlook for the past few years? In November 2012 the unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, at its lowest since February 2009, so it seems there is hope after all.
If you're a job seeker deciding to brave the job market in 2013, realize that the market has certainly changed over the past few years. Because employers still have a pretty good selection of job candidates--not to mention a large number of applicants--they're being a little picky about who they hire right now. Position yourself correctly and you'll be the lucky winner of a new job.
Kevin Marasco, chief marketing officer of HireVue, has a few tips for finding a new career this year:
1. Make social media work for you. It's no secret that recruiters and employers are hopping online to find out more about potential job candidates. But they're also looking on social media sites to find future employees before they've posted positions.
By having a basic presence on social sites, you're still neck-and-neck with your competitors, but if you use your social tools smartly, you can stand out. Join LinkedIn groups in your industry or specialty and share relevant content. Don't just be there: make your voice heard.
2. Open yourself to the idea of working remotely. Surprisingly, many people don't want to work from home. Some crave the socialization that comes with working in an office with others. But don't discount it just yet. As employers realize the fiscal benefits that come with supporting a virtual staff rather than one in-house, there are more remote positions opening up. Ignore them to your detriment.
3. Remember, compensation is more than just what is on your paycheck. Top performers may not be able to command the high level salaries they might have pre-recession. But don't turn away a job just because you think you're worth more money. Consider the other benefits of working for a given company; for instance, does it offer tuition reimbursement? If your future employer would pay for you to get a graduate degree, that alone is worth tens of thousands of dollars in education costs plus the increase in salary you may command with an advanced degree.
Does the employer allow working from home? You'll save on commute and lunch costs. Does it pay top dollar for health benefits? Again, big savings potential. Will you have the opportunity to put a well-known employer on your resume that you may leverage for the rest of your professional career? Priceless.
4. Break out of the traditional resume. Human Resources managers are still coming to terms with new approaches to the resume, but sites like About.me, LinkedIn, and other interactive resume tools are getting their attention. For one, they're more attractive than a traditional paper resume, and two, you have more options to highlight the skills and experience you want to focus on.
Even the wording you use in your traditional resume matters. Use the no-no words from LinkedIn's overused buzzwords list, and you're more likely to hit the slush pile. But if you focus on taking a creative approach to your job descriptions, you'll stand out and make it to the must-call stack.
5. Sell your past experience as a "must have" for the position you're applying for. It's all too easy to send the same version of your resume for every job for which you apply. But it's absolutely imperative--especially in today's job market--to customize it for the position you want. That might mean taking out a few past jobs that don't relate, and beefing up those that best sell you for the current role.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.